what to expect in therapy with me
A friendly conversation
A worry when you begin in therapy is that you won't know what to say. Everything feels mixed up inside and you have no clue what's what. So where do you even start?
It doesn't matter where you start. Things tend to unfold quite naturally in therapy. My way of working is relational and conversation-based, and I offer a safe space for you to explore your thoughts and feelings.
As we talk together, we will begin to get a sense of the things that feel meaningful for you to focus on. We find some threads that we pick up on. It's a bit like rolling tangled up yarn into a ball - little by little.
As we talk, I will ask you some questions to help you reflect and clarify your experience. This is part of the therapeutic process. A question is always an invitation to explore, never a 'test' or something that you need to 'get right.' In fact, there are no right or wrong answers in therapy!
An opportunity for deeper work
I offer the possibility of longer term, depth-oriented therapy because I believe that the healing process cannot be rushed. I usually recommend starting with 12 sessions, to get a feel for what you need help with. You can then choose to make the therapy open-ended, which gives you a chance to continue without the pressure of working to a specific time frame.
Creative arts and somatic work
I integrate somatic (body) work and the creative arts into my practice, for those who like working in this way. You can read more about this type of work here. If appropriate, I may also guide you through some grounding techniques or breathing exercises designed to regulate and calm the body. I work collaboratively with you to ensure that the pace and direction of our work together is in line with your goals and expectations for therapy.
What you share is confidential (with some exceptions related to safeguarding), and I abide by the ethical guidelines of the UKCP. I am certified in online work and a member of ACTO (Association for counsellors and therapists online).
A holistic, trauma-informed approach
My work is trauma-informed, which means that we seek to understand your emotional experience in the light of your wider life story. While the past doesn't define us, it can shed light on the present. Seeing the bigger picture can bring important insights, and it can allow us to access self-compassion.
Unhealed emotional pain is often held in the body as 'feeling memories.' In order for us to heal there must be room for the body, mind, and emotions in the therapeutic process. This is a holistic perspective to healing, which also encompasses our spirituality (our need for community, meaning, and faith).
A bit of psycho-education
Learning about the psychology behind your emotional experience can sometimes be helpful. It can help you better understand how the brain and body responds to trauma or stressful events. At times, I may share some psychological knowledge with you (known as psycho-education).
You play an important part in your therapy
It is important to remember that therapy isn't something that is 'done to you' while you sit back and watch. Therapy requires active participation on your part, and your own engagement is important for the therapy outcomes. Each session is a collaboration between therapist and client.
The Hexagon system for relational trauma healing
I find that early experiences lie behind many of the emotional difficulties that we encounter in adulthood, including anxiety, depression, low mood, and low self-worth. Feeling overwhelmed or numb.
Often, it's the invisible wound of disconnection in childhood, of not having been seen, heard, or loved affectionately as a child. I call this early relational trauma, and it's different from single-event trauma, such as an accident or natural disaster.
Finding existing approaches to trauma work somewhat lacking for work with early relational trauma, I developed my own model, the Hexagon system.
This is a holistic model which is based on established trauma-informed practices, as well as my own clinical experience.
It covers 7 aspects of healing that typically need attending to after early relational trauma.
* Who am I? (Self & identity)
* Needs and boundaries
* Attachment and life story
* Managing feelings
* Self-limiting beliefs
* Healthy relationships
* Post-traumatic growth and enrichment
During our sessions together, we may explore and reflect on these topics as they come up naturally in our conversation. And if I'm doing my job well, you may not even notice, because my focus will be on your experience, as I hold these principles in mind.
In the illustration below you can see how these areas of growth and healing are all interconnected.
The Hexagon system as a simple yet effective way to facilitate holistic, in-depth healing and growth within the context of a supportive therapeutic relationship.
As you continue on in therapy, you may start to become more aware of the particular areas that you wish to address in more depth.
are you ready to dive deep?
Doing the inner work around our early years is not always easy (in fact, it can be quite challenging at times) but it's always worthwhile because it allows us to live authentically in line with our deepest values and aspirations.
We don't do this journey for its own sake - it's not about getting stuck in the past - but because it brings both insight and healing. For many people, this means breaking the cycle of intergenerational trauma, which has a positive ripple effect on our adult life and our future.
Understanding your childhood experiences through a compassionate, trauma-informed lens can change your whole outlook on life and free you up to create new possibilities for yourself.
This, in turn, helps you be kinder to yourself, which means that you are more able to be emotionally available and present to those you love, including your children.
Exploring your early childhood experiences and their link with your current way of being and relating is a big part of depth-oriented therapy.
But usually we don't begin there. Instead, we talk about the present. Because people rarely come to therapy saying: 'I'd like to talk about my early childhood, please.'
You may have arrived with a more pressing problem, whether it's emotional overwhelm, anxiety, or low self-esteem. But it's often much easier to fix a problem when we understand it in its proper context.
That's why the plumber will look for the origin of the leak. 💧💦
The electrician will look for the faulty fuse. 💡
And the builder will ensure that the house is structurally sound before laying a new roof. 🏡
From there, it's easier to get on with the task in hand.
If you have been thinking about addressing a personal problem or situation that doesn't feel right, don't put it off any longer. Send me a message to find out how I can help you.
Because you deserve to be well.